1 November 2018

Live Review: Jazz Jamaica All Stars at Brighton Dome

Jazz Jamaica All Stars

Brighton Dome Concert Hall

Saturday 29th September, 2018


The relationship between jazz and reggae was for a while a rare combination, until the breakthrough of Jamaican jazz guitarist and visionary Ernest Ranglin, whose fresh approach saw a revolutionary breakthrough towards the fusion of Jamaica’s national music with the technical aspects of American jazz. Naturally these two rich genres blended together perfectly, setting a bright path for the future trailblazers of Jamaican jazz. Which brings us to our main focus, the current torch-bearers of Jamaican jazz fusion, Jazz Jamaica All Stars, led by bandleader, bassist, educator and composer Gary Crosby.

Gracing the stage of popular venue Brighton Dome and consisting of a vast number of handpicked seasoned musical veterans including a full brass and string section and, as always, Jazz Jamaica delivered an unforgettable performance full of surprises. Starting their set with a personalized arrangement of The Skatalites classic tune Ball of Fire, which saw a fine marriage of classically-tinted strings running alongside a bright and upbeat horn section. The continuation of their set saw the special guest appearances of London soul singer Noel McKoy and vocalist Brinsley Forde, a founding member the the reggae band Aswad. Another special feature was the appearance of up and coming vocal trio Dem Three, whose modest but confident stage persona set the tone for an unbelievable performance. Another highlight of this special performance was the familiar face of guitarist Shirley Tetteh, a busy and rising figure of the London jazz scene, whose gentle and mystic playing could be heard helping to carry the entire ensemble forwards.

Perhaps the best was saved for last, as later on into the performance saw Brighton’s very own The Dulcetones soul choir joining the band for a few tunes most notably on the final song, Bob Marley’s version of Red, Red Wine. For all of its greatness and popularity, it’s not a common thing to see such thriving ensembles, but with the work and leadership of musicians like Gary Cosby and the fine talent that makes up the essence of this ensemble we can see this music growing and remaining strong. 


George Richardson

(Photo: Brinsley Forde and Noel McKoy by Anya Arnold)

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